The Association of Occupational Nurse Practitioners (UK) (AOHNP) is to invest £8,000 to kick-start the development of a new Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing (FOHN).
The move is intended to give momentum to a process that began last summer when the Faculty of Occupational Medicine and Society of Occupational Medicine narrowly failed to secure a mandate from members to combine to form a single organisation.
That failure has led nurses to look closely at how they could develop an alternative, nurse-led representative and educational platform. A faculty development group is being led by Jo Berriman, a health management consultant at Mercer.
Berriman stated: “We are enormously grateful to the AOHNP for their generous contribution and appreciate their support in helping us to achieve our joint aim of setting up a Faculty of Occupational Health Nursing.
“Once operational, the faculty will provide a professional home for occupational health nurses. Most importantly, as well as providing representation at a strategic level, it will drive quality and support individual development by setting standards and developing evidence-based practice. Therefore, occupational health nurse education is a priority, and we will be working collaboratively with key stakeholders to push through the changes we believe are necessary to maintain the future of our profession.”
She added: “Currently, we are still in the very early stages of this process. The next steps are to appoint the committee members formally, to agree our vision, mission and values and to start work on forming the faculty itself.”
The development group comprises approximately 20 occupational health nurses, representing a range of organisations and regions across the UK, as well as those in independent practice.
The ultimate aim is to create an FOHN, endorsed by the Council for Work and Health, which will be able to control the training syllabus for future practitioners, rather than this being led by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The intention is that the new faculty could be up and running within 12 to 18 months. It is also expected to work closely with the The National School of Occupational Health, which was launched last year by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine and Health Education England with the aim of promoting and developing “multiprofessional training of occupational health practitioners”.
President of the AOHNP Diane Romano-Woodward said: “I meet with employers of occupational health nurses, from small organisations to large OH providers, and there is clearly a need to radically review the training provided [to OH nurses], and for there to be a body within occupational health that has the authority to advise the NMC on this subject.
“The setting up of the FOHN is very much in line with our stated aims.”